Emily Hand, fourth from left, reunited with father Thomas
Emily Hand, fourth from left, reunited with father ThomasNo credit

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar caused an uproar on Saturday night, after he commented on the return of nine-year-old Emily Hand, a dual resident of Ireland and Israel, who was among the 13 people freed from Hamas captivity.

“This is a day of enormous joy and relief for Emily Hand and her family. An innocent child who was lost has now been found and returned, and we breathe a massive sigh of relief. Our prayers have been answered,” Varadkar wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

However, no mention was made of the fact that Hand was held by Hamas terrorists for 50 days, or of the attack they perpetrated in Israel on October 7 when they abducted Hand and more than 200 other people.

Varadkar’s post was reposted and criticized many times.

AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby in the US, wrote, “Lost?! She didn’t go for a walk and get confused trying to find her way home. Emily was kidnapped by Hamas.”

“She wasn’t merely found, the terrorists who took her knew where she was for 49 days. She was returned because the IDF rightfully pressured Hamas to give her back.”

Channel 12 News’ European correspondent Elad Simchayoff wrote, “Emily wasn’t ‘lost’, she was abducted by terrorists who hold information about civilian hostages as a bargaining chip.”

“Emily wasn’t ‘found’, she was exchanged for prisoners held for terror offenses. You’re the PM of Ireland, Emily is an Irish citizen. Your prayers didn’t do a damn thing. Neither did your tweet.”

Yediot Aharonot columnist Nadav Eyal also commented on Varadkar’s post, “Lost? ‘Now been found and returned’. Emily was taken by the monstrous Hamas, kidnapped. Her stepmother was murdered, and her friends were slaughtered. This tweet is insane. It's worse than a lie.”

“Is the PM of Ireland afraid of the Pro-Hamas crowd in his country? Disgraceful. This is just Orwell's 1984. I feel sorry for Ireland for having such a coward as its PM, to the extent he'll portray a vicious terrorist attack against an Irish child and her family as a missing person story. Very far from any notion of leadership,” added Eyal.

Also commenting was Israeli Government spokesman Eylon Levy, who wrote, “Emily Hand wasn't ‘lost’. She was brutally abducted by the death squads that massacred her neighbors.”

“She wasn't ‘found’. Hamas knew where she was all along and cynically held her as a hostage. And Hamas didn't answer your prayers. It answered Israel's military pressure,” he added.

Hand’s family was initially certain that Emily, who was abducted together with her friend from Kibbutz Be’eri where she was staying at a sleepover, had been murdered in the October 7 attack. It was only weeks later that they were informed that there had been a case of “mistaken identity” and that Emily was, in fact, not dead but rather held hostage.